Joost Joustra - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Joost Joustra

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Joost Joustra

PhD student, Associate Lecturer

Thesis: Painted Boundaries: A Study of Sacred Space in Fifteenth-Century Italian Art

Supervised by Scott Nethersole

Pictorial space was a major concern for the Florentine painters of the 1420’s to the 1460’s. Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Filippo Lippi, Domenico Veneziano, Andrea del Castagno, and Paolo Uccello all experimented with the depiction of space in painting in a variety of ways. This thesis sets out to show that Alberti’s method (and linear perspective in general) was only one of many options artists had in their treatment of space. The religious function, setting, and subject matter of the art they produced, called for invention in broader terms. Space became an artistic tool that added to the religious significance of their works. This was not just a product of a single artistic method, but of individual invention and demands. Space was the product of a religious tradition that existed and had developed since the first religious images were produced. Patristic writing, preaching, praying, ‘mystical’ devotional practices, the performative aspects of liturgy, and the production and transmission of religious texts, were all products of a broad religious culture in which spatial concepts were important. The artworks produced in this time functioned within this network, and the spaces they depicted worked parallel to the actual spaces and spatial metaphors found in this religious culture.


  • BA in The History of Art, Leiden University 2007-2010
  • MA in The History of Art, Leiden University 2010-2011
  • MA in the History of Art, The Courtauld Institute of Art 2011-2012


  • Teaching Assistant: MA Core Methodology (Autumn Term 2014)
  • Teaching Assistant: Object Positions (Spring Term 2014)

Research interests

  • The representation of space in painting and sculpture
  • Renaissance Humanism and the transmission of knowledge
  • The aesthetics of Christian art
  • The historiography of art

Conference Papers

  • Deceiving Room(s): Fra Filippo Lippi’s ‘Bartolini Tondo’, given at VIEW: A Festival of Art History, Institut Français, London, 8 February 2014
  • The Afterlife of Saint Augustine’s ‘On the Greatness of the Soul’: Space and Theology in Alberti’s ‘De pictura’, given at the 60th Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, New York City, 28 March 2014
  • The ‘Sacra Conversazione’ Reconsidered: Visual Unity & Division in the ‘Pala Quadratagiven at Beguiling Structures: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting, The National Gallery, London, 19 September 2014
  • Saints and Structure in Fra Filippo Lippi’s Landscape Adoration, given at The 2015 Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 6 March 2015

Other academic activity

  • Renaissance Section Assistant (2013 – 14)
  • Member of the Postgraduate Advisory Board (2012 onwards)
  • Courtauld Student Union PhD Representative (2012 – 13)
  • Member, Renaissance Society of America
  • Member, Society for Renaissance Studies
  • Organiser, Between Heaven and Earth: Ecclesiastical Patronage in Europe, 1400-1600 (Third Annual Renaissance Postgraduate Symposium, The Courtauld Institute of Art, 9 May 2015)
  • Organizer, Artists in Habits (61st Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, Berlin, 26-28 March 2015)

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